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Power to the PC (12), Buh-bye to Masks (mostly) and Big Win for Tiger Handlers

Plus, less pain for FAA special-issuance medicals, AOPA suing ASA, and FAA says SAF Is A-OK and much, much more!

Blackhawk Aerospace has started flight testing toward FAA approval of its installation of a higher-power Pratt & Whitney PT-6A-67P in a Pilatus PC-12. The upgraded Pratt puts out 1200-shaft horsepower. The boost in ponies, as well as a much higher thermodynamic rating, means the PC-12 will be able to climb at full power all the way to 25,000 feet, a common cruising altitude for the pressurized single, as opposed to PC-12s outfitted with the stock PT6A-67B, which begins to lose power at around 15,000 feet, according to Blackhawk.

Pilots can now track the status of their medical applications online. Previously, they had to call the FAA medical division in Oklahoma City to find out what was happening with them. The FAA emphasizes that the new access point in no way changes its controversial medical standards.

The FAA revoked the pilot certificate of Trevor Jacob, the pilot who caused an online commotion when he, on the day before Christmas last year, bailed out of a Taylorcraft and parachuted safely down. The FAA agreed with many thousands of online commenters that the stunt was staged.

After a federal judge struck down a CDC rule requiring passengers to wear masks on flights, the two-year long mask mandate for domestic airline flights is over, at least for now.

The Justice Department is planning to appeal the judge’s ruling against the mandate, and, if successful in that appeal, the federal government would reinstate the mandate. The Justice Department was weighing whether to appeal or not, however, as a second defeat runs the risk, legal experts say, of greatly diminishing the federal government’s ability to issue or enforce such mandates.

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In the wake of the ruling and the federal government’s dropping of the mandate in response to the judge’s order, every U.S. based airline we know of has dropped their mask requirements.

The mask mandate might not apply in cases, as municipalities that control airports still have the right in most places to mandate masks. Airlines, which are privately run companies, can also require their passengers to mask up.

Southern Airways is buying a pair of Tecnam P2012 Travellers. The non-pressurized nine-seat twin can cruise at close to 200 knots. Southern plans to add two to four more Travellers over the next year and change.  

Textron completed its acquisition of Slovenian aircraft maker Pipistrel. Textron paid just under $250 million for the plane builder.

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The FAA is emphasizing that despite the end of the mask mandate, at least for now, it is not rolling back its zero-tolerance policy for unruly passengers. So far, the FAA has referred 80 cases to the FBI for investigation.

JSX, an on-demand air charter provider, announced that it will outfit all 100 of its aircraft with Starlink internet. The service uses a newly launched constellation of low-earth orbit satellites launched by Elon Musk’s SpaceX. No word on when such high-flying internet might make its way down to small planes.

Goodbye Learjet, and hello Learjet (and more). Bombardier, the owner of Learjet, which stopped producing new airplanes last month, is going all-in in Wichita. It plans to base its U.S. headquarters there, along with an overhaul and repair service center, as well. The company hints at even more investment there, as it says that it’s intent on increasing its U.S. presence.

The pilot of a UPS feeder Cessna Caravan died when the plane she was flying crashed on an instrument approach into a processing plant just off the approach end of the landing runway at Burley, Idaho, in low visibility, wintry conditions. The father of the pilot who died in the crash, who is also a pilot, is calling for the closure of the airport, which he says is dangerous due to obstacles like the potato plant.

Legendary aviation publisher ASA says that it is being sued by AOPA after the Washington State-based study and aviation education publisher attempted to register its logo, which features wings, as does AOPA’s. ASA says that its registration of the logo was undertaken to protect it from imitators and plagiarizers.

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Sporty’s awarded its annual Spring Scholarship to Franklin Fremont, a soon-to-be high school graduate. Congrats, Frankie! Fremont is already a pilot, with both rotorcraft and fixed-wing tickets. The Las Vegas, Nevada, resident will next head to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, where he hopes to earn an instrument rating and tack on a CFI certificate. The scholarship is worth $2,500 toward flight training.

The FAA took a step back from its AD on Grumman/American piston singles, which had required intensive inspections of the bonded wings of the planes after one crashed on landing after a control surface attach point failure due to delamination. The agency said that the incident was caused by faulty maintenance practices on that particular airplane.

Cubcrafters is donating a Carbon Cub to the Alaskan Airmen’s Association for its annual raffle, which is open to all. Details are here. The winner’s name will be drawn on May 8, 2022, in Palmer, Alaska. The winner need not be present for the event.

As we’ve written about, Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) is gaining considerable traction, and the FAA wants you to know, if you didn’t already, that it is down with the movement. It released a list earlier this week laying out the many kinds of waste and bio products that can be used to produce the non-petrochemical fuel. Included sources for SAF include seaweed and algae, sugar cane and beets, recycled construction materials and more.

United Airlines is sponsoring a big aviation maintenance competition being put on by a Texas school, MIAT College of Technology. The event, to be held in Dallas from April 25-28, 2022, will pit 22 teams against each other in aviation maintenance tasks.

 

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